Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Midway for PS3 Home (release report pt2)

Second Hmm… (11:30am)

We had 50 tickets that we had bought, and while we were playing the mingames ourselves spending the tickets a BAD thing happened. But before I mention this I want to talk about playing our own minigames. We had a lot of performance issues while developing The Midway. This is in part due to the strain a managed language (in this case Lua) puts onto a cpu. Also we had a lot of active content in this particular space. Certainly the most of any scene so far released in Home. We had come up with some very clever ways of maintaining frame rate while playing the games and I was hopeful that it would hold up when the scene is full of real people, not just test clones. And.. OMGoodness did it hold up. Woohoo is all I can proclaim at this point. Now back to the first REAL bad news of the day.

We had been spending our tickets and eventually spent the last one. Then at some point shortly after I was playing some Free game (freeplay frenzy I think and not Miz Fortune) and one of my workmates who had come in noticed I still had a ticket. That’s odd we thought, but we musta not noticed that we hadn’t spent the last one. So I go play another game and see my tickets go to Zero. When I come out of the minigame however we are all shocked to see that I get my ticket back. Then we quickly tried to spend it several more times to no avail. We could use it as currency to play the games, but the ticket never disappeared or got consumed. This is real bad.. Mass Media have an awful lot riding on this product. We self financed this with the hope to make at least our money back and if we make more, then we can move more effort into creating great places in Home to go to. If this flops it will cost our small company a lot of money. I cannot really stress how much is riding on this product for us, but suffice to say that it could and probably will spell a turning point in the companies history, one way or the other.

I talked to my Boss and we are not happy. How much money is this costing us? How many people is this affecting. We all went into theory and testing mode. I personally went off to look at the code. At this moment I thought it was my personal fault. I thought I had screwed up badly and left some test code in the game and somehow it hadn’t been detected before release. You see my test code allowed us to permanently have a single ticket, so this looked exactly like my code. I had a major sinking feeling in my stomach and I was a little stressed. Thankfully my workmates, boss and myself are all professional and name calling and blame can come later ;) right now we need to find and fix this issue. This could be costing us thousands of dollars a minute. The boss went off to talk to Sony, we had to cover the fact we may need to close The Midway down till we fix this. Paul one of my workmates went back to his own PS3 and started spending his tickets like a madman to see if he would have the same issue. I was of course scouring my code. Firstly I checked over my single ticket test code. This seems very unviable though and upon looking at it more I knew that it should not be possible for it to be active. Several minutes later I realized it was not my code. If it had been players would only ever see a single ticket count and not the 50 we start with when buying them. Phew…

Then me and the Boss went back to our broken ticket version. Time for more testing we thought. So we left the scene and went to the plaza and back in. This was also a good time for me to see the porta potties in the main plaza that will teleport people to The Midway. They of course look broken to me as they are not rotated quite correctly, though not terribly so. Still I hate the fact something I wrote is even slightly wrong in this way. I apologize to anyone who noticed this. Well back to our immediate issue, the fact we could be giving away infinite tickets, ARGH! We hoped that leaving the scene and coming back in would reset our ticket value. The ticket value is obtained by querying how many you have of the Sony servers, so we figured this should fix the permanent ticket issue. However it did not and this threw a wrench into our thinking that it was just our scripts that were wrong. At about this time Dan another workmate arrived and also confirmed he was able to spend all his tickets and have no phantom ticket at the end. This made us feel slightly better, as the odds of this happening seemed to be going down. What to do about it was the question, along with just how prevalent might this be?

What should we try next and what is still wrong with so many people not being able to play the minigames or receive the Darlas Den free personal space?

More of What happened next in my next post...


  1. Great read - I hope The Midway has been a massive success for you! It certainly is very "moreish" and great fun.

  2. Thanks Cubehouse, i appreciate you postiong and hope that it is a success. I really want to expand what can be done in Home even more than we have so far. For that we need to make sure it will not sink our company.

    I am busy writing up the rest of the report, but it is some feat for me atm, i seem so busy haha.

    Da Voodoochief

  3. Love the midway man ....and i spend all my time there far as i know no one can get the permanent ticket thing to work ...there was a way if u played a free play on trigger happy with 0 tickets and won it would take your ticket number to -1 and then allow any game to be played free...that doesnt work anymore ...if there is anything i can do to help let me know

  4. Hi Upgrayed-D,
    Thanks for the reply. i am glad you enjoyed the Midway. We tried to make it as good value as possible, but also viable financially. Of course anything in Home at the moment is really a tester, as there is no real idea of how much commerce there might be.
    It sounds like something had been fixed on the back end to fix the -1 ticket thing. I did hear about that and it should be in tomorrows installment. Currently most things are stable (i am not at work tomorrow! haha)
    Thanks for the heads up,

    Da Voodoochief

  5. oh yeah the value is really very good ....i was expecting it to be much more ....very pleased with the ticket price....really hope this works well for u guys id love to see more

  6. Hi Upgrayed-D,
    I do not have any contact info for you. Please email me at

    Da Voodoochief